Last season was a sprint, a 60 game sprint that often felt rushed and left the Houston Astros exhausted by seasons end. This year is different. This year everyone is back healthy and strong, ready to make it further than they did last year.
What they did to the Oakland A’s in the Opening Series showed us that they were not here to mess around. They swept the A’s in four games, then snatched one of two games with the Los Angeles Angels. Despite this team losing six games in a row in April, Houston has the talent to compete with anybody in the American League West. The Athletic put the Astros at Number 3 in their power rankings as of April 12th, and while this will fluctuate over time, they recently made a big jump.
The Astros’ hot start made them really fun to watch in the early going.
Yordan Alvarez is back and seems to be doing pretty well considering missing all of last season due to injury. The bats of Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa have come alive for the Astros in these first few weeks, which has tremendously helped the offense with getting runners on base and more importantly, runs.
The Astros pitching staff is back at full strength except for Jake Odorizzi’s injury, which it wasn’t last year and that bodes well for the Astros. Zack Grienke dominated the A’s on Opening Day for his first ever win on the first day of the season and the 209th win of his career. Lance McCullers Jr. recently showed his most dominant outing of the season over the Tampa Bay Rays in his hometown.
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More recently, the dwellers of Minute Maid Park climbed the power rankings like they were Climbing Tal’s Hill. As they jumped from the 14th spot to the 5th spot per MLB’s Week 4 Power Rankings, Houston is backed by a dominant rotation and bullpen that have a 2.27 ERA in their last 11 games.
With the losing streak still in the rearview mirror, Houston has scaled the standings and are now 15-13 (second in the AL West). As the A’s are cooling off, the Astros are two games out of first place.
I know it’s early, but this hot start is a great way to start the season and it is encouraging of what is to come. The Astros clearly have players capable of making plays when needed and they usually do. Now, the key is keeping that up through the entire year marathon. I’m confident that this ball club can do that.